Reflexology, or zone therapy, is the practice of massaging, squeezing, or pushing on parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, or to improve general health.
There is no consensus on how reflexology is supposed to work; a unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one's qi.
Concerns have been raised by medical professionals that treating potentially serious illnesses with reflexology, which has no proven efficacy, could delay the seeking of help from proven conventional medicine. There is no clinical or scientific evidence that reflexology has any beneficial effect.
Other reflexologists claim to be able to relieve stress and pain in other parts of the body through the manipulation of the feet.
These hypotheses are rejected by the general medical community, citing a lack of scientific evidence and the well-tested germ theory of disease.
Reflexology was further developed in the 1930s and 1940s by Eunice D. Ingham (1899-1974), a nurse and physiotherapist. Ingham claimed that the feet and hands were especially sensitive, and mapped the entire body into "reflexes" on the feet. It was at this time that "zone therapy" was renamed reflexology.
Modern reflexologists in the United States and the United Kingdom often learn Ingham's method first, although there are other more recently developed methods.
Reflexology's claim to manipulate energy (Qi) has been called pseudoscientific, as there is no scientific evidence for the existence of life energy (Qi), 'crystalline structures,' or 'pathways' in the body.According to nearly all reputable scientific studies on the subject, reflxology has no benefit other than a placebo effect.
In this chart, the color codes represent the following organs or parts of the body:
|Pituitary gland||Gall Bladder|
|Neck and Throat||Adrenal Gland|
|Shoulder and Arm||Bladder|
|Lung and Breast||Colon|
|Thyroid and Bronchial||Coccyx|
|Solar Plexus||Sciatic Nerve|
Interactive Reflexology Charts
An episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (1-02 Alternative Medicine) focused on reflexology. The original airing was February 7, 2003.
The Real Hustle mentioned reflexology as part of a weight loss scam (Season 4 Episode 2).
Review of scientific evidence